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September 10, 2003

Restrictions to Philly Lawyers' Practice in New Jersey Fall

Barriers to Philadelphia lawyers who want to represent clients in neighboring New Jersey have effectively been struck down, thanks to the persistence of the 13,000-member Philadelphia Bar Association and a ruling today from the New Jersey State Supreme Court. The Court has accepted a recommendation from one of its own committees which eliminates altogether the requirement that such an office [bona fide office] be located within New Jersey. Under the Court ruling New Jersey's restrictive bona fide office rule which prevented many Philadelphia lawyers from practicing in the State will virtually disappear. The change takes effect on January 1, 2004.

Philadelphia Bar Association Chancellor Audrey C. Talley today hailed the Court's ruling: "We commend New Jersey's high court on eliminating a rule which needlessly restricted interstate practice. This is great news. It opens the doors to the consumers of legal services and is consistent with the model rules of the American Bar Association and trends throughout the nation."

Former Chancellor Allan H. Gordon who led the way on the challenge to the New Jersey rule noted that the Philadelphia Bar Association's challenge to the rule began more than five years ago. Gordon said that "very few things worth accomplishing are ever accomplished quickly or easily. But we were convinced that challenging this rule was the right thing to do--right for lawyers, right for clients, and right for the people of both states."

Chancellor Talley thanked Gordon, "and all of the former Chancellors who were involved in this effort, as well as former Judge Arlin Adams and our colleague Nancy Winkelman, who wrote the initial briefs in this case."

Gordon said that "in an age of palm-size computers, laptops, cell phones and portable virtual offices the bona fide office requirement really made no sense. Now, consumers will have greater access to legal services and the legal marketplace in our region will be consistent with the way law is practiced in the 21st century."

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